St. Barths Buckett Regatta 2018 starts
15 March 2018
is open for business and back with its usual zeal to host the annual
St. Barths Bucket Regatta, which has been a joyous and meaningful
part of this island’s life since 1995. With 26 entries, the fleet is
down in count by a relatively small increment over last year,
reflecting the preference of attending Superyacht owners to choose
hope over worry and Bucket Stewards Perini Navi, Royal Huisman,
Vitters Shipyard and Rybovich to cast off fret in favor of lending
an early hand during rebuilding efforts.
“Even before we knew how things were going to turn out or how many boats would come across the Atlantic or from the States or the islands, the Bucket Stewards committed to the regatta and to helping our friends here in St. Barths,” said Race Director Peter Craig, explaining that the hurricane damage presented an opportunity to apply the traditional St. Barths Bucket donation (annually derived from the generosity of the Stewards and owners and typically set aside for a local charity) to the worthy cause of addressing the island’s urgent needs and providing critical supplies, including chainsaws for clearing roads and tarpaulins for the many roofs lost or damaged. The event poster this year also is being sold with proceeds earmarked for helping those still in need of financial aid.
“Never undersell the people of St. Barths,” added Craig. “They all came together, and look what they accomplished. And as far as the competition we’re expecting, any time you get 26 Superyachts together you’re going to get a good show.”
The Superyachts here, ranging in length from 27.7 metres to 77.6 metres, include three historic J Class Yachts that start their four-day class competition with two windward/leeward fleet races on Thursday, March 15.
The entire Bucket fleet kicks off its three-day series of racing over scenic coastal courses on Friday. The Js are fleet racing under their own class rules while the others enjoy timed-start pursuit races under the ORCsy and ORCcs rating rules and the special racing rules of World Sailing’s Appendix SY.
“We’re excited to see what we can do in 20 knots of breeze and waves,” said the J Class yacht Svea’s tactician Charlie Ogletree, who has been with the boat since her launch in February a year ago and has only experienced lesser winds and flat water with her. “She’s new to The Bucket and so am I.” Ogletree considers Velsheda “the benchmark,” since her team has been here the most and is consistent, while Topaz, he says, is “polished and ready,” having practiced for the last week or so in Antigua. Velsheda and Topaz finished second and fifth, respectively, in last year’s Bucket when an unprecedented six J Class yachts competed. And proving themselves closely matched with Svea, those boats finished sixth and fourth, respectively, at the 2017 World Championship to Svea’s fifth.
The three sloops competing in the Les Gazelles des Mers (Class A) are perhaps the most high powered, performance-oriented superyachts here and include the 45 Metre Visione, which finished second at last year’s Bucket, and the Vitters 46 Metre Unfurled, which finished third and also won its class and overall honors here two years ago. Joining them is the 34 metre Nilaya.
The Les Elegantes des Mers (Class B) are four-strong, with three ketches – the Royal Huisman 48 metre Kamaxitha, the 42 metre Rebecca (second in Class C last year), and the 35 metre Sojana – sharing the limelight with the Royal Huisman 48 metre Wisp, a sloop that won Class C last year.
The Les Mademoiselles des Mers (Class C), which are spirit-of-tradition-like in appearance, will be as exciting as they are beautiful to watch this year. The breakout of five sloops in the 30 metre size range have similar sailing characteristics and are sailing in a tight rating band, something you don’t always get in a Superyacht regatta. Notable as moving to this class from Class B last year is the 34 metre Royal Huisman SPIIP; not only did it win its class but also it took overall Bucket honors in 2017.
The five-boat class for Les Grandes Dames des Mers (Class D) includes the two 56 metre Perini Navis Rosehearty and Zenji. Rosehearty has won this class the last two runnings and is sure to be tested by the 36 metre sloop Whisper, which is sailing its first superyacht regatta and rumored to be bringing some or all of the world champion Bella Mente Racing (Maxi 72) crew to sail her.
The Corinthian Spirit Class, known as Les Voiles Blanche (Class E), is the largest class here with six entries and was started as a superyacht racing initiative last year. The Vitters sloop KOO is defending champion and will sail against the returning 56 metre Perini Navi sloop Bayesian and the 52 metre ketch Q. New here are the Vitters 33 metre sloop Missy, the 32 metre sloop Child of LIR and the 78 metre sloop M5, launched in 2003 as Mirabella V and the largest single-masted yacht ever built.